Ask the Expert: Balancing School & Extracurricular Activities
From the YESS archives: Dr. Sara Swansen, Chief Behavioral Health Officer, shared the following in a YESS newsletter several years ago, and her advice is still pertinent for families today.
Experts tell us that extracurricular activities can be very beneficial to children. Researchers report that children who participate in after-school activities are more engaged in their learning, perform better academically, and experience an increased sense of competence and self-esteem. In addition, studies show that participation in extracurricular activities lowers children's risk of depression, substance abuse, and behavioral problems.
While many extracurricular activities may be beneficial, it is possible to have too much of a good thing. It's easy for parents and children to become overwhelmed and stressed when involved in too many activities. Find the right balance with help from the following actions.
1. Create a Schedule
Sit down with your children and come up with a schedule that includes time for family, homework, and extracurricular activities. Look most closely at your family priorities and make sure those come first.
2. Be Involved
Stay in contact with teachers and coaches so you know when it is time to focus more on school work and less on optional activities.
3. Stop & Reevaluate
Regularly assess the true value of your children's activities. Don't be afraid to admit you can't do it all if your child or family feels overwhelmed. If school work begins to suffer, it is time to cut back.
4. Watch for Signs of Burnout
Monitor your children for signs of stress. In younger children, this may include increased irritability or tantrums, while older kids may experience mood swings, recurrent illnesses, and increased complaints about certain activities.
If your family could benefit from community-based services offered by Dr. Sara and her team, visit the
Hope Hall page
on YESS' website or call 515-282-9377.